When Zack Greinke was named the 2009 American League Cy Young Award winner, he became just the third pitcher in Royals history to ever win the award since its inception in 1967.
The other two are just some guys named Bret Saberhagen, who won it in 1985 and 1989, and the always popular David Cone, who brought home the award in 1994.
If you were creating your all-time Royals rotation, these three would most definitely be your top three guys...but in what order?
For the sake of argument, we'll separate Saberhagen into Saberhagen '85 and Saberhagen '89.
I'm sure everyone will have their opinions, but here is my list.
No. 4: 1985 Bret Saberhagen
Saberhagen's numbers: 20-6, 2.87 ERA in 235.1 innings. Bret had a phenomenal season in '85, leading the Royals not only to their first Cy Young winner but their first World Series victory. His 1.05 WHIP contributed to him not only winning the Cy Young but the MVP too in only his second season in the bigs. This impressive season was only the tip of the iceberg for things to come for young Bret.
No. 3: 1994 David Cone
Cone's '94 Cy Young performance came during a strike-shortened season. His 16-5 record came in only 23 starts and 171 innings pitched. If he had gotten to make seven or eight more starts, how good would he have been? We will never know, but he was very good, posting a 1.07 WHIP and a 170 ERA+.
No. 2: 1989 Bret Saberhagen
Saberhagen's '89 numbers were ridiculous. He was 23-6 with a 2.16 ERA, posting 193 K's in 262.1 innings. His 0.96 WHIP is something legends are made of, as he was practically unhittable, keeping his opponents to 7.2 hits per nine innings.
No. 1: 2009 Zack Greinke
Greinke of '09 was a special guy. He was pitching and doing his thing during one of the lowest periods in Kansas City baseball. This guy posted what seems like a paltry 16-8 record, but you can't judge him based on his record. He had one of the lowest run support per game numbers in baseball in 2009 while posting a 1.07 WHIP over 225 innings and allowing a stingy 7.7 hits per nine innings.
One might say that Saberhagen's numbers are just a tick better...and they are overall. But Saberhagen's '89 Royals were a much better team than Greinke's 2009 Royals. They were competitive and had some bats to put runs on the board.
Hopefully the Royals will continue to improve behind Greinke, Billy Butler, and Alex Gordon. I hope this article opens up some good positive Royals pitching conversation.